Thank you to Further with Food, a website to find and share information and tools dedicated to reducing food loss and waste in the United States, for allowing us to share this description and excerpt.  For the full article, visit their website.

Project status: Published in 2017

Project partners: Arabella Advisors, The New Venture Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation

Project description: With 62.5 million tons of food wasted in the United States each year, there is much work to be done to bring about substantial changes in the food industry that will create a more efficient food system and help preserve the environment.  This guide describes promising opportunities to reduce food waste in three areas – packaging, food retail, and home kitchens – and discusses a number of solutions that could be piloted, validated, and scaled to significantly reduce food waste in America.  It is intended for food industry leaders and disruptors, advocates for food waste reduction, designers, and funders who seek direction on ideas they can consider for implementation over the next five to 10 years.  The solutions presented are intended to serve as a springboard for action and collaboration within and beyond the food industry to drive the field forward.   

Note: This research project was carried out in the United States. The findings may differ from the situation in Canada, but the principles and potential impacts may be transferable.

Excerpt: With 62.5 million tons of food wasted in the United States each year, there is much work to be done to bring about substantial changes in the food industry that will create a more efficient food system and help preserve the environment.1 This guide describes promising opportunities to reduce food waste in three areas—packaging, food retail, and home kitchens—and discusses a number of solutions that could be piloted, validated, and scaled to significantly reduce food waste in America.

While the solutions presented hold promise for achieving meaningful reductions in food waste, there are a number of barriers to overcome. First are the cultural attitudes and behavioral practices of American consumers, who are driven by preferences for convenience and low cost. Second are the challenges companies within the food industry face in introducing and accepting changes, both opera­tionally and culturally, in the absence of strong indications from consumers that they want food waste reduction to be a corporate priority. Additionally, not all solutions in this guide will be widely accepted or feasible in all geographies or settings, and some would result in higher prices for food products and services, which would present challenges for consumers—and corporations—with limited resources. All solutions proposed here should therefore be evaluated for the burden they could place on impacted parties, not solely for the benefit they would provide.

We hope the solutions presented serve as a springboard for action and collaboration within and beyond the food industry to drive the field forward. We recognize that not all of the solutions can be adopted widely, and some may not be feasible for all consumers and corporations due to associated costs or other factors not readily apparent. We also know that the complexities of the food system could make it so that a positive change in one part of the supply chain could have unintended—and perhaps even detrimental—consequences within another section of the system. Therefore, the greatest progress will be made if food industry leaders and disruptors, food waste advocates, researchers, designers, and funders come together to jointly evaluate and improve food system operations to reduce food waste from farm to fork.

 

Endnotes

1 “A Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste by 20%: Technical Appendix,” last modified March 2016, https://www.refed.com/downloads/ReFED_Technical_Appendix.pdf.